Pope Francis blesses palm fronds, olive branches as Holy Week begins

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has blessed palm fronds and olive branches held by faithful in St. Peter's Square as Holy Week ceremonies begin at the Vatican.

The pontiff in his Palm Sunday homily lamented what he called the "indifference" of all those who don't want to take on the responsibility of deciding the destiny of refugees flooding into Europe. He offered a comparison to what happened before Jesus' crucifixion, when local authorities washed their hands of his fate and passed the decision on to others.

The Palm Sunday ceremony began with a procession through the packed square. Cardinals, priests and rank-and-file Catholics clutched braided palm fronds and olive branches in recollection of the triumphant entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem ahead of his impending death on a wooden cross.